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Snapheal for OS X improves content-aware heal for the Photoshop-phobic

Snapheal is a cool, inexpensive (US$7.99) photo editor for the Mac with one very high-end feature. It mimics the Photoshop content-aware fill feature that was introduced in Photoshop CS5. This little digital trick allows you to remove unwanted objects or people from an image. Using a series of algorithms to determine what should be filled in where the object you removed was, it smartly and quickly repairs the photo with intelligent guesses about what to fill in.

We reviewed version one of this app about a year ago. This version is faster and offers Lightroom and iCloud support. Plus, it works smoothly with Mountain Lion. The GUI has been streamlined and the eraser tools now work with higher precision.

In my testing, the app was intuitive and speedy. I think it is best at removing objects from photos, but it does have a variety of other image editing tools like crop, saturation, sharpening and the usual array of editing features. The app has a very nice split-screen mode so you can see the original photo and the edited version.

If the content-aware features of the newest Photoshop are something you want, but you don't want to pay the high Adobe tariff, Snapheal will give you that feature at a low price. It has generally received good reviews at the Mac App Store, although a few have complained that Snapheal frequently crashes. I did not see that happen in a couple hours of use on my Mac Pro.

There are a few things to watch out for. If your target object is too large, Snapheal might not have enough surrounding textures to make good guesses. Sometimes you'll have to do the removal in stages. Still, the app does work as advertised, and I think most people will find it meets their needs. The price has also been lowered from the initial $19.95, making it even more desirable.

Snapheal requires OS X 10.6 or later. I have some step-by-step examples in the gallery.

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